Published: 06:00, 05 July 2021
| Updated: 15:51, 05 July 2021
After a very difficult year, reporter Nicola Jordan decided she needed a new adventure.
But unable to fly off to sunnier climes, she decided to invest in a static home by the sea right here in Kent.
As somebody fortunate enough to have been spoiled with lovely sunshine get-aways to the Mediterranean, if somebody would have said to me that I would now be spending my holidays on the North Sea coast, I would have said 'Hi-de-Hi'.
But thanks to lockdown, that's exactly what's happened... and I'm loving every minute of it.
With trips abroad looking like the could become a distant memory, like many others who value a break away I started to look closer to home.
Coming from the West Country, I've always been fond of Cornwall and Devon, but then there's the upheaval of getting there and the cost.
After a cursory glance, I was shocked how prices for a B&B or hotel have soared with hard-hit proprietors desperate to claw back lost income.
It was after a family conversation that my daughter – keen to bring up her young children near the seaside – joked: "I'm even considering a static home." That was it – the answer.
On April 16, I became the proud owner of a two-bedroom caravan at Seaview holiday site on the seafront between Whitstable and Herne Bay.
My second home on the beach – or "the van" as the kids refer to it – ticks all the boxes for me.
Door-to-door from my main residence in Rochester, it takes about an hour to get there.
The rail journey to Chestfield and Swalecliffe is less than 40 minutes, there's 34 trains a day and it's an eight-minute walk from the station.
Weather depending, I can be on my verandah with a chilled glass of Chablis or swimming in the sea within minutes of dropping off my case.
I love walking, so with Tankerton, Whitstable and Herne Bay all within easy reach along the Viking Coastal Trail – which runs from Reculver to Minnis Bay – it's ideal.
It can be walked each way in about an hour and is mostly flat – so I'm even considering taking up something I have not done since I was a teenager – cycling.
The wildlife is stunning in places and the sunsets are on a par to those I have seen in the Mediterranean and West Indies.
On site there's everything at arm's reach – a shop selling vital supplies, ie barbecue coals, wine and beer.
There's a bar and clubhouse overlooking the beach with cabaret and bingo, if that's your thing.
The heated outdoor pool with adults-only sessions is a must for people like me who thrive on site gossip and hot tips on living on a caravan park.
I'm now lucky enough to have three gorgeous – and lively – grandchildren, all under the age of three.
So there's a supervised children's pool, play area and an activities' club to keep them occupied when not splashing in the waves.
I think the thing that struck me most about moving onto the site was the diversity of people and the camaraderie.
Retired couples, young families and professionals wanting to get away from the strange, remote way of working many of us have experienced in the past 15 months.
Obviously the Covid travel restrictions have prompted a massive surge in staycations this year as more of us explore hidden gems on our doorstep.
And, according to sales staff, another factor is the high number who have acquired a lockdown pet and don't want to shell out on kennel fees.
It's so easy to slip into holiday mode as soon as you step into the driveway of the site, complete with freshly-mown verges and a palm tree.
And now, having recently become a widow, it's reassuring there's virtually 24-hour security and emergency cover.
It seems I'm not alone in my new found-love for camp-site lifestyle.
Sales have rocketed this year with newbies snapping up their first-time buy and long-term residents – unable to holiday abroad – upgrading their residences.
Prices range from £32,995 for a "holiday home" to £149,995 for a "luxury lodge".
So now I may have sold it to you, what are the downsides?
It's a bit like buying a boat as unlike a house, value depreciates over the years.
If you sell after 10 years you're not going to make money – so it can't be described as a bricks and mortar financial investment.
They are affordably priced, but must be maintained properly as they aren't designed to have the same longevity as a conventional home.
You can't get a mortgage on a park home as the land on which they stand belongs to the site owner and not the residents.
This means lenders won't give you a loan on a property with no formal legal title at the land registry.
If you decide to sell up, you must pay commission to the site owner which is charged at 10% of the overall sale price.
But weighing up the pros and cons, my overall view is that it's fun and, after a year or so of what we have all had to put up with, that's surely what matters.
Who'd have thought a year ago I would be wandering around site comparing caravans, admiring gardens and commenting to myself: "Mmm, nice decking?"
Yes, the weather is to say the least unpredictable on this stretch of coast.
I have waterproofs and scarves alongside flip flops and shorts in my wardrobe.
I'm sure in the summer season it's very different from the bleak and chilly winter months.
But I'm sure I'll be back for a brisk stroll along the shores with a stop-off at the many cafes and pubs.
And I've already decided where to put the Christmas tree.